Sunday, May 26, 2024

Namibia takes aim at Botswana’s shoot to kill policy

The Namibian government and its citizens have joined forces to try and dislodge Botswana from its “shoot to kill policy.”Scores of Namibian citizens on Friday took to the streets to deliver an ultimatum- cum ppetition to Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia Dr. Batlang Serema demanding among other things an end to Botswana’s shoot to kill policy.While Namibia’s President President Hage Geingob, has called for calm and dismissed the protest march as a mere political gimmick, the marchers and the government are united in demanding an end to the shoot to kill policy.  

This follows the fatal shooting of four Namibian citizens suspected to be poachers by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF).The petition, a copy of which has been seen by the Sunday Standard, has four key demands of Botswana, and reads as follows:-An immediate and unconditional apology from your Head of State, His Excellency, Dr. Eric Masisi, on his disregard of international protocols on the protection of innocent and unarmed civilians. As the current president heading the SADC organ on security, we expect him to lead by example and walk his talk.

-A speedy completion of the work by the so-called joint investigative team, as reported in the media to have been promised by your President and ours, within the next 10 days since the autopsy on the bodies of the slain fishermen is scheduled to be carried out today in your country.

-The immediate withdrawal of acts of aggression towards our people, terrorizing, killing and intimidation of our innocent civilians along the stretch of our common borders and on the Namibian soil. -Within the spirit of SADC, the petitioners also demand the abolishment of what they term Botswana “draconian ‘Shoot to Kill Policy’ that has claimed too many lives of innocent Namibian civilians.”They stated that “We have it on record that more than 37 innocent Namibian lives have so far been lost, thanks to your heartless national defense force to date. A case in point is that of a 9-year-old boy, Tuwayape, may his soul rest in eternal peace, who was brutally shot and killed by your BDF soldiers at Lizauli Village in the Zambezi Region of the Republic of Namibia in 1998.”They further stated that “As usual, your government’s claim was that this boy was a poacher. Shame on your BDF, Madam High Commissioner! If there are child poachers of this tender age in your country, we do not have such in our country.”

According to the petitioner “Failure to meet and address all these demands with the urgency they deserve, we will be left with no choice but to raise our protests and demand to another regrettable level.” They requested feedback on the demands from Serema’s office, within seven days from the date of their petition. The petitioners also stated that “We are gravely concerned about the SILENCE of your Government and the Head of State on the continued harassment, terrorizing and barbaric killings of unarmed Namibian civilians by members of your Defense Force along our common border.”

According to the Namibians, “What we have only seen on social media is your Head of State’s concurrence with the remarks made by our Head of State when he reportedly made a courtesy phone call to your country’s Head of State. Over the years, we have been subjected to continuous harassment, confiscation of property, terrorization, and barbaric killings by the armed forces of your country, Botswana.” They noted that “Just two days ago, nearly five days after the heartless murder of our four harmless fishermen, your country’s military helicopters were spotted in the Linyanti and Kapani areas of the Zambezi Region – boastingly hovering over the villages with no regard for your immediate neighbours’ territorial integrity – an action we regrettably regard as blatant provocation towards our peaceful country.”

Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who I’s also the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation said in statement that Serema was summoned in order for the Namibian government to express “regrets and grave concern over the tragic killings.” She said that “While I informed him that the government of the republic of Namibia does not condone poaching, I strongly deplore the extrajudicial killings by the Botswana Defence Force in their anti-poaching drive. Bearing in mind that the two governments signed the boundary treaty in 2018, I sought clarity from the High Commissioner on whether Botswana still maintained the “shoot to kill” as a government policy, as such a policy has potential to cause disharmony between the two neighbouring countries.”

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